ARLINGTON, Texas -- Of course Barry Zito was thinking about a no-hitter. And that was too bad for him.
"That's the worst thing you can do because you then start to try to protect it," he said.
"Kind of a spoiler at the end," Zito said. "It's kind of frustrating. Not so much about the no-hitter, but to give up runs late. But we had a good lead, and the team won."
DeRosa hit a clean single to center field on a fastball away that Zito left up a bit. Zito (14-8) was trying to pitch the majors' first no-hitter since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.
"Tonight was all about Zito. That's the best I've ever seen him," DeRosa said. "He threw strikes with all his pitches."
The Rangers dropped a season-high eight games behind the AL West-leading Athletics.
Zito left after giving up his second hit, Carlos Lee's two-run triple with one out in the ninth. Lee later scored on a groundout.
"It puts a little tarnish on it," said manager Ken Macha, still calling it one of the best games Zito has ever pitched.
Macha has been on Oakland's bench as a manager or coach for all of Zito's 216 major league starts (100-61) since 2000.
"Hands down, the best game Barry's pitched all year," Macha said. "That ranks pretty high."
The subject of trade rumors earlier this season, the 2002 Cy Young winner struck out two and walked two. He threw 69 of his 114 pitches for strikes.
Zito, the last of Oakland's Big 3 that included Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, became the fourth Oakland pitcher with 100 victories, joining Catfish Hunter (131), Vida Blue (124) and Dave Stewart (119).
Zito improved to 17-4 lifetime against the Rangers, the most victories he's gotten against any opponent. That includes 11-1 on the road, and made up for his home start against the Rangers earlier this month when he allowed six runs and 11 hits in five innings of a 14-0 loss.
"I had a pretty bad game against them, I wanted to come out a different guy," Zito said.
DeRosa, who entered the game in a 4-for-31 slump, drew a one-out walk and stole second base in the second inning. That was the only time a Texas runner got past first base until the ninth.
After the walk, Zito retired the next 17 batters until DeRosa led off the eighth.
Rookie Edinson Volquez (1-3) allowed three runs and seven hits over four innings. The A's broke it open by scoring six times in the ninth, with Nick Swisher hitting a three-run double and Milton Bradley adding a two-run double.
The closest the Rangers came to a hit before DeRosa's was Michael Young leading off the seventh.
Young hit a slow roller that passed Zito coming off the mound. Second baseman Mark Ellis made a barehanded scoop and threw in one motion to beat Young by a step at first base.
"I don't remember him making any mistakes to me. He worked in and out and had command of all his pitches," Young said. "I was behind 0-1, 0-2 all night and always had to battle back. This was equal to as good as I've seen him. And he's had some good games against us."
Ellis had a leadoff double in the third inning and scored on Mark Kotsay's grounder. The Athletics made it 3-0 in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Ellis and an RBI single by Jason Kendall.
All-Star shortstop Young and rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler started three double plays for Texas. Young made a nice stab and relay in the second inning, and Kinsler duplicated the feat an inning later.
Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira made an over-the-shoulder catch of Frank Thomas' popup in foul territory with two on in the seventh.
- Kendall has multiple hits in four straight games, and 10 of 13.
- Lee hit his first triple since Aug. 10, 2003.
- Only one of the three runs against Zito was earned because of his throwing error in the ninth inning. On Young's comebacker with one out, Zito's bad throw to second drew shortstop Marco Scutaro off the bag. Lee then tripled.